Nordica Hell & Back (2014)
If you aren't afraid of edgy power and responsiveness, the Hell & Back delivers. Yes, it's light - there's no metal, and the core is a mix of wood and lightweight foam. But there's no lack of aggressive, thoroughbred performance. The finely honed edge power is lethal on even the hardest snow (No. 3), and the carbon-fired rebound (No. 2) is exhilarating. The combination can be exhausting, and Hell & Back doesn't suffer laid-back input gladly. But for experts who attack the snow, it's a satisfying partner. Gleason: "Strong, light, stable. Holds up at speed and mauls the steeps."
With a narrower 98 mm waist width and non-rockered tail, the returning Hell & Back is quicker edge-to-edge and better suited to harder snow than the 107-mm Vagabond. Without the tail rocker found in the Vagabond, it will have stronger turn finishes. Nordica positions it as a lightweight but powerful one-ski-quiver for expert skiers. Nordica's men's All-Mountain collection includes four high-performance models, all sold flat (Vagabond, Hell & Back, Steadfast and Burner), plus two value versions available with bindings (Avenger 82 and Avenger 75). They cover a broad range of waist widths, from 109 (Vagabond) down to 75 mm (Avenger), and ability levels, ranging in price from $849 down to $449 MSRP. All are intended for all-mountain utility and all-conditions versatility for mainstream resort skiers. (For hard-snow carving specialists, see the Fire Arrow collection; for soft-snow surfers, see the Freeski collection - Bushy Wayne, Helldorado, Patron, El Capo.) All of the All-Mountain models are vertical-sidewall, fiberglass-reinforced laminate constructions, which Nordica deems the most trusted and proven way to build skis. The top three models are built on Nordica's Energy CA I-Core, which has a strip of PU foam down the middle to save weight and wood on either side for edge stability and integrity. The top-of-the-line Vagabond is rockered in both the tip and tail, for maximum maneuverability in deep snow. All other models are rockered in the tip only, for enhanced flotation in soft snow and terrain-smoothing shock absorption. Nordica offers pre-cut climbing skins to fit the top models.
|Awards||Gold Medal Gear|
|Lengths||161, 169, 177, 185|
|Rating: Stability at Speed||3.98 / 5|
|Rating: Maneuverability||2.81 / 5|
|Rating: Hard Snow Grip||3.77 / 5|
|Rating: Crud Performance||3.59 / 5|
|Rating: Forgiveness||2.99 / 5|
|Rating: Flotation||3.12 / 5|
|Rating: Overall||3.39 / 5|